“We’re driving to the airport after a successful racing trip. Morale is high, even if legs are heavy and bums are sore”
I’m in a people carrier filled with people. All of them cyclists, who are, in fact, people too. The majority are sleeping. Apart from the driver, for which I am grateful. We’re driving to the airport after a successful racing trip; morale is high in a contented sort of way, even if legs are heavy and bums are sore. Which is the polite way of expressing it, because nobody actually sits on their bum while cycling, do they? Have you seen how wide my bum is? Have you seen how narrow my saddle is?
The race was the Dudenhofen GP. We’ve enjoyed two days of outdoor track racing with rain only ruining play for the last event. The programme included a UCI class 1 omnium (class 1 status is granted when more than five nations are present and means lots of World Cup qualification points are on offer), points race and scratch race. That was until all the managers came out of the managers’ meeting and we’d got a Madison on the programme as well. Which seems to be the way women’s Madison is developing: by convincing one race organiser at a time.
They also ran a stand-alone elimination race (AKA the devil take the hindmost). The devil is known more as a component of the omnium than its own race but last year rumours were flying that it was to be added to the Tokyo Olympic programme, substantiated by the fact it’s been a European Championship event for the past two years. Can you imagine? People dedicate years of their lives to make it to the Olympics — what if they were first to be eliminated?
The devil is the video game of bike races. Most games, like most races, might penalise you for being crap by declaring you last place but they let you finish the game with your chums — they let you pretend you enjoyed the taking part. But not the devil. In an elimination race you need to be good enough to unlock the next round or you’re not allowed to play any more. Not fast enough? I’m afraid you can’t sit with us. It’s a mean world.
Olympic and world champion, Katie Archibald got into cycling after winning handicap races on a Highland Games grass track